The Browns surrendered a league-high 66 sacks last season and that’s a huge problem. Granted that Robert Griffin and Josh McCown are quarterbacks who take a ton of sacks, but that is not an excuse. It’s just downright disappointing. This is an issue that Cleveland addressed this off-season.
The Browns did not hesitate to throw money into the offensive line. They lured guard Kevin Zeitler away from the Bengals with a lucrative $60 million contract over five years. JC Tretter is an upgrade at center and he signed a three-year deal for just under $17 million. Cleveland even resigned Joel Bitonio to a five-year extension worth $51 million. This move is a little more significant because the Browns actually retained young talent instead of letting it walk away in free agency so this could be a good sign.
As free agency began, Pro Football Focus had Tretter as the ninth-ranked center and Zeitler as the ninth-ranked guard and Cleveland landed both of them? If you predicted that, I would have called you crazy because the Browns never dished out money to the line in years prior. They let Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz walk out the doors. Anyways, that’s now in the past and the Browns have strengthened the middle of the offensive line with Bitonio, Tretter and Zeitler. Not to mention, the left side is secure with Joe Thomas. Pro Football Focus currently has the Browns offensive line rated second only behind the Eagles.
The biggest question mark comes at right tackle. Austin Pasztor filled that position for the majority of the year but is currently a free agent. Cameron Erving and Shon Coleman are expected to compete for the starting gig. This will be Erving’s third position in as many years which usually isn’t a good sign, but it a matter of perspective. This kid is willing to play whatever position he is needed at. He did the same in college where the majority of his career he played left tackle. Maybe now Cam can feel a little more comfortable at the tackle position. He will have to compete with Coleman who doesn’t have much experience under his belt but showed some flashes of potential.
I expect big things for this Browns offense. Not necessarily in the sense of points, but just playing well. I want to see a smooth flowing offense and a great offensive line can make that happen. The right cards are in play so we will just have to wait and see.
Max Gold is a Senior Writer for Cleveland Sports Talk
Follow him: @CST_Max_Gold
Purchase our CST shirts by clicking this link!!! We now have three different colors available for your choosing as shown below!